You’ve got to hand it to Hunter Wheat.
If you don’t recognize that name, well, it’s probably because he’s spent a lot more time publicizing his businesses than he has himself. But when it comes to fun and forward-thinking food and entertainment in OKC, Hunter’s the man. Bleu Garten. Anatomy Wine Club. And now, Banquet Cinema Pub.
Banquet is a two-screen theater, restaurant and bar that shows first-run movies alongside cult classics, sporting events and more while serving great food and stroooooooong drinks. Don’t want to see a movie? That’s fine. Enjoy the restaurant and bar with a game of shuffleboard or while watching a game on one of the massive TVs in the dining room.
But Banquet really shines when you put it all together, especially with the new Dinner & A Movie nights.
Wheat leans heavily on executive chef Jeff Patton for this weekly event, because it’s not just a couple of menu items served during a movie—each Thursday guests can enjoy a different movie paired with a three-course themed special menu and drink pairings for $40.
I saw the deeply stressful film “Free Solo” last week and while the movie might have triggered my heretofore unknown fear of FALLING OFF A MOUNTAIN TO MY DEATH, chef Patton’s menu was a delightful play on just that.
While seriously fretting that I was watching a snuff film, I enjoyed a Superfood Salad of kale, granola and fruit tossed in a blueberry vinaigrette with a can of Lefthand Brewery’s Travelin’ Light Kolsch. The beer, light and crisp, paired well with the salad, which was both simple and made with care. As I ate the kale, I could tell it had been massaged, breaking down some of the fibers and making it much easier to enjoy. Each leaf had been dressed, so I never got a mouthful of dry leaves, and the crunch of the granola, chewy dried Craisins and the pop of fresh fruit made for a texturally fascinating meal eaten mostly in the dark.
Next up were the Campfire Nachos, with a lovely pulled smoked chicken that really had that backyard barbecue scent over a black bean salsa and spicy nacho cheese. It was served with a fork, for those who like to be neat, or you could go “Free Solo” and just eat it with your hands, as I did. The accompanying drink was a 26.2 Brew from Marathon Brewing Co. (it’s part of Boston Beer Co., aka Sam Adams), which is a nice sea salt gose, which is fruity and sour enough to cut through the richness of the nachos and the spice of the cheese.
Finally, we finished with the El Capitan Granite Cake, a quasi-bread pudding with “rubble” of crumbled cookies, fresh whipped cream and a non-edible plastic climber making its way up the cake, which was served with a Spiked Campfire Coffee cocktail of cold brew, chocolate rum, banana liqueur and half & half. (At least one person in the theater accidentally tried to eat the climber. My thoughts and prayers are with Marty Peercy even now.)
The coming weeks will have another three must-see cult classic films:
Dinner & A Movie shows begin at 6:30 p.m. Thursdays and if the response is good on this first month, I think Banquet wants to keep it going. (I don’t work there, but I’d also like to keep it going, because I think chef Patton is just getting started and I want to see how weird he can get.)